January has historically been a big month for house sales, but also sees many tenants begin their search for a new property. While the private rental market has been settling for the last quarter, rumours of a potential January lockdown may lead to an increased interest in a change of scenery.
Although there are many questions to be answered about private rentals throughout the rest of 2022 – how tax changes will impact the sector, whether pet friendly lettings will become the norm, whether the government will get around to replacing the green homes grant, and many more – but while we’ll be covering those as the data arrives, January could answer two such questions pretty quickly: will the country face further lockdown restrictions and will that impact the rental market?
The prospect of another lockdown
Though it’s not what anyone wants, there seems to be a growing consensus that a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown may be required at some point in January as the Omicron variant of COVID becomes the main variant globally. From virologists to spokespeople for the NHS, experts are increasingly concerned at the spread of the virus and worried that hospitals will soon be overwhelmed.
While the government has implied an ideological opposition to further lockdown measures, there have been similar statements preceding previous lockdowns, so it’s difficult to tell from the information provided by ministers. However, with many in government having been even more emphatic than ever about their opposition and any vote likely to face stiff backbench opposition, it’s likely that only the very minimum will be done, and likely at the last possible moment.
In fact, it’s likely that the government will be keen to put their eggs in the vaccination basket and hope to be given the chance to ‘see how things go’ until the February half term. This, however, is likely to see a softer tiered lockdown brought in toward the end of January in an effort to avoid school closures – which may not negate the need for a ‘circuit breaker’ anyway.
How could this impact the rental market?
Hot on the heels of a winter break, the impact of a further lockdown is likely to be small – there is a general reduction in outdoor activity at this point of the year, and the impulse to move will likely be tempered by the general impact on spending power that January tends to see.
The influence of any possible lockdown will likely be amplified as we get closer to spring. With the winter solstice now behind us, the gradual return of evening light could see people compelled again to seek out a change of living arrangements – whether to be closer to parks, or just for more space if a lengthier lockdown looks likely.
What this means for Wirral landlords
Although there are no guarantees, any increase in the movement of tenants – and the consequent ending of contracts – could represent a moment for landlords to review rental prices in their area. With rental property in huge demand, and Wirral still below the national average for rental prices, it may be useful for landlords to approach an expert and have the market rate for their properties properly re-evaluated.
Although huge hikes are unlikely to be required, work will soon be required to reach new minimum energy efficiency requirements, and this should be factored in as landlords seek to re-let their properties.
Need a little help navigating the world of private letting, or want our help to evaluate the rental prices of your properties? Contact Us today to speak to one of our experts.